KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- Water is released onto the Mobile Launcher Platform (MLP) on Launch Pad 39A at the start of a water sound suppression test. Workers and the media (left) are on hand to witness the rare event. This test is being conducted following the replacement of the six main system valves, which had been in place since the beginning of the Shuttle Program and had reached the end of their service life. Also, the hydraulic portion of the valve actuators has been redesigned and simplified to reduce maintenance costs. The sound suppression water system is installed on the launch pads to protect the orbiter and its payloads from damage by acoustical energy reflected from the MLP during launch. The system includes an elevated water tank with a capacity of 300,000 gallons. The tank is 290 feet high and stands on the northeast side of the Pad. The water is released just before the ignition of the orbiter's three main engines and twin solid rocket boosters, and flows through parallel 7-foot-diameter pipes to the Pad area.